BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Tears flowed and heads bowed as Del-Val coach Troy Gore addressed his team near midfield at Frank Banko Field.
The Warriors had just fallen, 36-22, to District 11's Notre Dame-Green Pond in a state Class 3A quarterfinal, and Gore had a message for his team.
"I love each and every one of y'all," he said. "You never gave up. And you're about to become men and go out into the world, and I want you to remember that lesson: Never give up."
The Warriors (8-5) trailed, 28-6, at halftime against the Crusaders (12-2) before rallying to within 28-22 with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Cole Defranco, however, led the Crusaders on a nine-play, 66-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Mitch Daniel.
The Crusaders will move on to play District 3's Bethlehem, which beat Scranton Prep, 40-13, Friday night.
Defranco finished 13 of 19 for 189 yards and a touchdown. Daniel had just 34 rushing yards on 17 carries, but he scored three touchdowns.
Del-Val dug itself an early hole.
An offside penalty on a fourth-down field-goal attempt moved the ball to the 3-yard line, and Daniel scored from there with little more than four minutes left in the first quarter.
Azyear Sutton-Walker responded with an 11-yard touchdown run, which was followed by a failed two-point conversion run.
After the Warriors failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, a 10-yard Daniel touchdown capped a seven-play, 50-yard scoring drive for the Crusaders.
Defranco then hit Isaiah Dejesus for 2 yards and a score with one minute left. Jalen Simpson added a 17-yard touchdown run with three seconds left in the half after an illegal-procedure penalty cost Del-Val 5 yards and forced a punt that was returned to the Warriors' 30-yard line with 22 seconds remaining.
Back-to-back touchdowns by Zamir Davis got Del-Val within 28-22 in the third quarter.
Sutton-Walker finished with 111 yards and a TD on 23 carries. Davis added 109 yards and two scores on 18 carries.
The Warriors finished the game with 12 penalties for 79 yards. The Crusaders were flagged nine times for 66 yards.
Maurice McCray and Nafis Ennis were defensive standouts for Del-Val. Tyler Hall made a late interception.
Del-Val 0 6 16 0 - 22
Notre Dame-Green Pond 7 21 8 0 - 36
ND: Mitch Daniel 3 run (Alex Garrido kick)
DV: Azyear Sutton-Walker 11 run (run fail)
ND: Daniel 10 run (Garrido kick)
ND: Isaiah Dejesus 2 pass from Cole Defranco (Garrido kick)
ND: Jalen Simpson 17 run (Garrido kick)
DV: Zamir Davis 8 run (Isaiah Jones run)
DV: Davis 37 run (Charles Britt run)
ND: Daniel 1 run (Garrido kick)